Tuesday 6 September 2022

Saint Joan The Girl Soldier - Louis de Wohl - Vision Books

Saint Joan The Girl Soldier
Louis de Wohl
Harry Barton (Illustrator)
Vision Books
ISBN  9780898708226
eISBN 9781681494517

This volume was published in 1957, it was one of the original Vision Books for Young Readers, and is now republished by Ignatius Press. It is one of three in the original series written by de Wohl. He has written these and several other biographies of saints. I wrote an overview of the Vision Books Series and after finding out so much about the series I am thankful that Ignatius has so many of them still in print, and recently heard there are several new volumes in the book. I jumped this on to the top of my list to bead because my youngest daughter is thinking about Saint Jon as her confirmation saint. I already had the eBook and picked up a physical copy of this book for her to read. I am thankful there is an eBook edition of this as I prefer eBooks because of my dyslexia, and my son prefers them because of eye tracking issues. But back to this specific volume:

The description of this volume is:

“This volume in the Vision Books series of saints for youth combines a world famous Catholic novelist, Louis de Wohl, with one of the most thrilling and dramatic saint's lives in history, St. Joan of Arc. De Wohl uses his famed narrative skill to tell young people about the brave teenage French girl who had visions and led armies in battle, but also about how her entire life testifies to the amazing power of God's grace.

It's all here: how Joan, a humble maiden in an insignificant town, was told by St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret to lead the French in battle against the English; how she finally succeeded in convincing the French of the truth of her mission; how she met with fantastic success but was betrayed, captured, and imprisoned; and finally, how she suffered through a politically motivated trial for heresy and was burned at the stake.

Best of all, de Wohl is not interested solely in the external details of Joan's life, but in Joan's all-encompassing love for God, which informed all her courageous actions from beginning to end. You'll not only thrill to Joan's heroism; your heart will delight in her example of loving surrender to God's will. Every detail of her life will ring out to you as a joyful witness to the grace of God.”

The chapters in the book are:

Author’s Note
 1. Voices Beckon
 2. Permission Denied
 3. A Horse for Joan
 4. Joan Is Put to a Test
 5. New Attire for the Maid
 6. Victory Bells Are Rung
 7. The Banner Wavers
 8. Mass Comes First
 9. Surprised—by a Stag
 10. The Dauphin Is Crowned
 11. Francs for the Maid
 12. Honor Restored

The author in his preface note states:

“The lives of saints are history, for saints make history, and, what is more, they make it the way God likes it best. History without the saints is all warfare, battles, countries enslaved or freed, actions of rulers, change of power from one country to another. But from time to time God points toward the way he wants things done, and the pointer he uses is time and again a saint.

Saints are people, and they are not always peaceful people. They can fight, and indeed they must fight whenever they come across evil. This, then, is the story of a great fighter of God who was a saint. And this fighter, this saint, was a girl. She made history in leading her poor, oppressed country to victory. She made history also by showing by her wonderful example that the very first thing we need if we want to win through is faith.

In the course of my life I have read a great many books about her, and every one of them has taught me a little more about her. Today I no longer remember the names of all the authors, but I am grateful to every one of them.

You too will one day have forgotten the name of this author. But I don’t think you will ever forget the saint about whom I have written: lovely, glorious, young Joan of Arc.”

I believe his intention will be fulfilled. I have read a few books about this saint, and watched a few movies or miniseries about her life. Some with a clear Catholic faith filled intent and some … not so much. This one is geared for younger readers but will bless anyone who reads it with the intention of learning more about this saint. My only complaint is the story goes from her named being cleared to today in a few paragraphs. I really feel this could have been a whole other chapter or even two. The volume concludes with these words:

“Joan was never forgotten, but for several centuries her memory seemed to sleep in the hearts and minds of most people until, in 1909, a saint on the papal throne, Pope Saint Pius X, declared her blessed. In 1920, on May 9, Pope Benedict XV declared her a saint.

Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of French soldiers invoked her in battle during the terrible times of the First World War, 1914-1918. The great commander-in-chief of all the Allied troops in the last years of that war, Marshal Foch, never tired of pointing out that “the Maid” had been a brilliant strategist and tactician. French officers to this very day are learning from her!

In 1931, when the five-hundredth anniversary of her death was celebrated, the English Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, praised the saint who had fought so valiantly against his country, recalling that she had never hated her enemies, but wished them well. He quoted Joan’s own words to the “Godons”: “Go back to your homes, and God bless you.”

In one of his books, a great British leader of the Second World War, Sir Winston Churchill, praised her at length.

The history of a saint continues to inspire, thanks first and foremost to the Church, who invokes her saints every day. As long as there will be men and women who love their country well enough to fight for its freedom, the memory of Saint Joan of Arc, the saint of soldiers, will never die.

In 1956 the five-hundredth anniversary of her rehabilitation was celebrated in Rouen, in the presence of the President of the French Republic. The beautiful cathedral, which had suffered so badly under the bombardment in the Second World War, was rebuilt. English Catholics, making reparation for the wrong the saint suffered in the long gone past, donated a special window.”

This book is wonderfully written. It is a great book, by a skilled author in an excellent series. The writing is clear and crisp. The pace is fast. And it is written with honesty and integrity. It neither tells the story with a glossy cover or looking to discredit. It presents the facts. 

I plan on reading all the books in this series that are in print and as many of the out of print that I can track down. I returned to this series because I had finished the 38 books in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media. Those books are geared for a younger audience, and these are written for older readers and go deeper into the subject matters of each volume. This is a great book in an excellent series. My only complaint is that only about a third of the books are available in digital formats, with my dual form of dyslexia and my son’s eye tracking issues eBooks are our preferred format. These books are written for a Middle Grade or Teens in mind, but this one and the others I have read are excellent volumes for readers of all ages. A great biography of an amazing Saint, I can easily recommend this book. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books in the Vision Books Saints Biographies:
Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant 
The Cure of Ars 
Edmund Campion 
Florence Nightingale's Nuns 
Fr. Marquette and the Great Rivers 
Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi 
Kateri Tekakwitha 
Mother Cabrini, Missionary to the World 
Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity 
Saint Anthony and the Christ Child 
Saint Benedict 
Saint Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal 
Saint Dominic and the Rosary 
Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns 
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas 
Saint Helena and the True Cross 
Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus 
Saint Isaac and the Indians 
Saint John Bosco 
Saint Katherine Drexel 
Saint Louis and the Last Crusade 
Saint Philip of the Joyous Heart 
Saint Therese and the Roses 
Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars 
Saint Thomas More of London 
Vincent De Paul: Saint of Charity 

Out of Print books in the Series:
Brother Andre of Montreal 
Catholic Campuses, Stories of American Catholic Colleges 
Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Children Welcome: Villages for Boys and Girls 
Christmas and the Saints 
Columbus and the New World 
Dear Philippine: Mission of Mother Duchesne 
Edel Quinn: Beneath the Southern Cross 
Father Kino, Priest to the PimasFather Kino, Priest to the Pimas 
Frances Warde and the First Sisters of Mercy 
Good Pope John b
Governor Al Smith 
In American Vineyards, Religious Orders in the United States 
Irish Saints 
John Carroll Bishop and Patriot
John Neumann, The Children's Bishop 
Kit Carson of the Old West 
Lydia Longley, the First American Nun 
Marguerite Bourgeoys, Pioneer Teacher 
Martin de Porres, Saint of the New World 
Modern Crusaders 
More Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Mother Barat's Vineyard 
My Eskimos: A Priest in the Artic 
Peter and Paul: The Rock and the Sword 
Peter Claver, Saint Among Slaves
Pope Pius XII, the World's Shepherd 
Rose Hawthorne: The Pilgramage of Nathaniel's Daughter 
Saints of the Byzantine World 
Sarah Peter: The Dream and the Harvest 
St. Augustine and His Search for Faith 
St. Francis de Sales 
St. Gregory the Great, Consul of God 
St. Jerome and the Bible 
St. Margaret Mary, Apostle of the Sacred Heart 
The Bible Story, The Promised Lord and His Coming 
The Cross in the West 
The Ursulines, Nuns of Adventure 
When Saints Were Young 

No comments: